Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Flickr Commons turns 5

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Today Flickr Commons turned 5 years old. The Commons has turned into an incredible resource of over 250,000 images from 56 different libraries, archives, and museums throughout the world. For me, the launch of Flickr Commons heralded what turned out to be a huge turning point for my career.

Flickr Commons allowed me to build my first proper mashup – my Google Streetview Then & Now. This was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me. It was my first demonstration of the power that comes from having interesting photos and associated data that was freely licensed and freely available to be shared through an API so others could do things with it. It made my day when George Oates at Flickr saw it and called me a superstar!

A bit to my surprise, people liked what they saw. I overcame my fear of public speaking and starting talking about what I had done and what could come from sharing and reusing data at conferences. People outside of work took an interest in what I had to say. People were willing to fly me places to listen to what I had to say & to listen to my ideas. Not only that, people referred to what I was doing in their conference papers and blogs. This led to me becoming the first Australian to be named as a Mover & Shaker of the library world by Library Journal. It’s allowed me to become a bit of an experimenter at work and

Along the way, my Commons experiences have introduced me to so many like minded people throughout the world. It’s these connections that can’t be measured by the number of views or comments an image contains.

In 2011 my Commons experience was complete when my work set up our own Commons account. I’m now on the other side trying to get interesting things from our collections out there to see what other clever people do with it. It’s a blast!

Little did I know that way back then that building a mashup at 3am one morning would influence my life and my career. I’m absolutely loving the journey it’s taking me on and can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thanks Flickr for what you’ve created.

Flickr commons in my neighbourhood

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Following on from my previous then and now Flickr commons meets streetview demonstration, I started to think of how could I bring that experience to a user based upon their current location – take out the streetview and replace it with a real life view.  Can you provide an immersive experience for a user, giving them only the historical items from a cultural institutions collection, that are relevant to their current location?  Imagine being in a location with your laptop or mobile phone, and being able to see exactly what the location you are standing in looked like in the past.

For example – thanks to free wifi from the Apple Store in Sydney on George Street, I built a web application to show me my current location.  It’s pretty accurate, but not perfect.  In this case it’s showing my location as about 100m from where I actually am (on the corner of King St and George St).  I can then display all the images from Flickr Commons that relate to that area.  As you can see there are a variety of historic images available and I’ve selected an image showing Martin Place.

Flickr in my location

From where I am standing on George Street I can see the real life buildings that are shown in the historic photo.

Martin Place

If I then walk down George Street 100 metres I can be in the same environment where the photos were taken and can compare the historic image of my current location on my laptop to the environment I am standing in.

Flickr in my location

So how does this work?

Up until a few months ago, the only option available was to to guess the location of the user based upon their IP address.  This might have been able to give the application the city that a user was in, but it was unlikely to provide it with a more accurate location than that.  Recently two plugins based around the W3C Geolocation specification have been developed - Geode from Mozilla labs for Firefox 3 and geolocation functions have been added to Google Gears which is available for a variety of browsers.  By using these plugins I can determine a reasonably accurate latitude and longitude for a users location and if a user doesn’t have either of these plugins installed, or for privacy reasons decides not to allow these to broadcast their locations, I can fall back to using the much less accurate IP address lookup.

Once I have a users location, I can use the Flickr API to return all the images that are within a certain radius of the user.  If I also use Google Maps as the mapping application, I can also add wikipedia articles from the users current location into the mix.

Try it out

I’ve developed two prototypes, the first one returns historical images from Flickr Commons. Given that there aren’t a vast number of photos in the Commons yet, and even fewer have geolocation information added, unless you are around the Sydney CBD area, your mileage may vary.

The second prototype returns images from Flickr that have a creative commons license. As there are a lot more images available in this category, the chances of getting a result is much greater.  For either of these to work you’ll need to download one of the plugins.

Flickr: The Commons

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Flickr have just announced The Commons, a collaboration where the Library of Congress has placed over 3000 images from their collection on Flickr. These images have been selected, based upon them not having any known copyright issues.This is similar to what has been done with Picture Australia here at the National Library, but in reverse. Picture Australia incorporates Flickr images with images from Australian cultural institutions – bringing the masses to the museums. The Commons works in reverse, bringing the museums to the masses. This model opens up huge range of possibilities that just aren’t possible with the current version of Picture Australia. Now a user can easily add tags, comments, notes or add location data, greatly enchancing the value of the collections.It’s currently limited to the Library of Congress, but hopefully more museums, libraries and galleries will be added to the project in the near future.

Least interesting Flickr photos

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Looking at my Flickr photos it’s easy to see what my 200 most interesting photos are. However, if you have more than 200 photos in your photostream how do you work out what is your least interesting flickr photo? With a little help from the Flickr API you can build a page that will show you your 5 least interesting photos.Try it out and see what your least interesting photos are.

Geotagging Flickr

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Flickr have updated their detail level for images of Canberra on their mapping service. This is going to make geotagging my images much more accurate. Thanks.